The Party Wall Act 1996 is national legislation covering England and Wales and provides a framework to enable neighbours who share a boundary to carry out building works.
As building owners seek to extend their properties to their full potential, there are frequently party wall issues. Building works can cause damage to an adjoining owner especially if they involve excavations. A building owner must give all adjoining owners Notice of Proposed works that are covered by the Act.
What does the Party Wall Act deal with?
To comply with the Party Wall Act you must apply for a Party Wall Award. This will deal with the following matters:
Govern the extent of the building owners works.
Set out the way those works are to be carried out.
Document the condition of the adjoining owner’s property in case the works cause damage to it.
A building owner having planning permission is a completely separate issue. The obligation to comply with the Act stands alone.
If an adjoining owner consents to works and does not seek his own surveyor to be appointed, consent must be in writing. Oral consent is not sufficient. However, it is not always so straightforward.
Disputes over Party Walls
A dispute can arise where an adjoining owner does not consent within 14 days of service of a Section 1, Section 3 or Section 6 Notice. A dispute can also arise where a building owner does not consent within 14 days of a Counter-Notice.
Adjoining owners should not hesitate to refuse consent and take advantage of the provisions of the Act by appointing their own surveyor. Costs of such appointment are normally paid by the building owner in any event.
Compliance with the Party Wall Act is compulsory. It has to be complied with before works commence.
An injunction in the County Court can be obtained where works have commenced without the provisions of the Act being complied with. It is surprising how many developments proceed without proper recognition by the building owner that the Party Wall Act applies. The Party Wall Act does not provide any enforcement mechanism where its provisions have not been followed so the adjoining owner wishing to object in such circumstances is forced to utilise common law and seek an injunction based on damage and trespass.
How can Pinney Talfourd help?
Party Wall matters are a particularly specialist area of law. Having the right Party Wall Surveyor is critical for either party. Pinney Talfourd LLP has experience of these matters and will always refer a client to an appropriate specialist surveyor.
Our Property Litigation Team has a wealth of experience of applying and obtaining injunctions to prevent unauthorised works and in advising parties on compensation claims and disputed Party Wall Awards.
Where works have commenced and been completed without a Party Wall Award and damage occurs, Pinney Talfourd have experience of issuing County Court Proceedings for damages, nuisance and trespass.
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